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How to Be Prepared for Holiday Returns

Returns are expensive for retailers. How are you making sure your return process is ready for the holidays?

Holiday returns can be a nightmare for retailers and consumers alike. Consumers will likely change their minds about products this year because of inflation and an economic downturn. Last year, online holiday retail sales increased by 11%, with returns starting the day after Christmas, December 26.


It’s no secret that returns are expensive for retailers. Optoro reported that retailers spent an average of $33 handling a $50 return in 2021, up 7% from 2020. For some items that are low-price points, the total cost to process returns is greater than the cost of letting consumers keep the item. Shipping costs have risen, and many large retailers have experimented with allowing consumers to keep their returns, thus creating more loyal shoppers. How are you making sure your return process is ready for the holidays?


Goodbye Free Returns? 

Demand has decreased as consumers slow their spending and do so more intentionally. Due to inflation, consumers have reprioritized their purchases, leaving retailers stuck with overstocked inventory. This means consumers find getting items they want at discounted prices easier, but it is harder to return items. There is little room and money for free returns for consumers because retailers spend more and more on storing surplus products. That is why we have seen heavily discounted items as retailers try to empty their inventory. Restocking fees are returning for some brands which have physical stores. However, restocking fees can also harm a retailer in a competitive marketplace. Retailers will be experimenting with different price points for restocking fees or even raising the price of a product to offset the cost of the potential return. Creating the proper returns policy this holiday season will save your business money and time. 


Extended return window for holidays

For the third year in a row, Amazon has announced that consumers can return any goods purchased in October until the end of January. All sellers must adhere to this return policy. Despite the extended return window, eligibility for returns remains the same. The Amazon Extended Holiday Returns policy requires most items purchased between October 7, 2022, and December 31, 2022, to be returnable through January 31, 2023. Amazon also hired 150,000 employees in the US to aid with holiday expectations. Other retailers like Walmart are also following suit and extending their holiday return window, similar to Amazon’s, in which returns will be accepted curbside and on doorsteps. 


Stop at the source 

It is important to understand why products are being returned and to make adjustments. Consumers are picky. The way retailers handle returns influences if consumers buy from them again. A positive return experience will build customer loyalty. The retail industry can take steps to reduce returns to ensure the number of returns during the holidays is manageable for the system. However, a negative return experience can turn a customer away forever. To help limit large numbers of returns, retailers should ensure product descriptions are accurate online, visuals are of high quality and even look into modern enhancements like virtual try-on technology.


Easy Labels

Returns are a part of the customer service experience. During the holidays, it is even more critical for a consumer to know and understand how the returns process works for a company so there are no broken expectations. More than half of consumers prefer returning their e-commerce purchases with a pre-paid postage label. Return labels included in a purchase are a great way to reduce issues in the future. With DesktopShipper, you can print return labels, add them to the box, and not pay for the shipping label until it's processed. This method makes it easier for everyone all around.


Rely on Technology

With the right technology, companies can integrate software, applications, platforms, and more to help run e-commerce operations. Returns during the holidays can be a logistical nightmare. A shipping solution like DesktopShipper can help smooth out returns processes with Order Management Systems and Inventory Management. With DesktopShipper, you can print return labels to include in packages for easy returns. If the labels are not scanned, the seller is not charged. Whatever the return policy, DesktopShipper can help. 

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